Journalism is Dead?

Student Journalist Reviews the Future of News

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Journalism is Dead?

Student journalist discusses the future of news and shares statistics.

Student journalist discusses the future of news and shares statistics.

Graphic by Estefani Rios

Student journalist discusses the future of news and shares statistics.

Graphic by Estefani Rios

Graphic by Estefani Rios

Student journalist discusses the future of news and shares statistics.

Estefani Rios, Reporter

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“Well, don’t report any fake news.”

Those were the first words a family member said to me when I shared my interest in journalism.

We were driving to school when it happened and as soon as they uttered those words, it became silent and I felt suffocated. There was an underlying message behind their “joke” and it was not laughable. Instead, hearing someone close to me completely discredit the ethical values of journalism came as a big slap in the face.

There are several claims about modern journalism. Media outlets like The Huffington Post and blogs have claimed that overall, journalism is dying. I don’t think this is true. 

To put it into perspective, a quick search on Google using the keywords “journalism dying” gets me 38,200 results. Among the many entries, there are two main viewpoints – one being that journalism is dying, and the other, that journalism is not dying, but rather, evolving. I agree with the latter.

It is a fact that the number of paper newspapers has decreased significantly since the turn of the century. According to the Pew Research Center, the circulation of weekly newspapers from 1940 to 2017 has decreased by 25 percent, from 41.1 million to 30.9 million, however, the online viewership of newspapers has increased.

Instead of waking up every morning and fetching the newspaper, people now wake up and use their phones or laptops to stay updated with the changing news. According to the Pew Research Center, there has been a 40 percent increase in the average yearly visits to the top 50 online newspapers between 2014 and 2017. Data that shows that people want to stay informed, and as long as that continues, there is no way that the distribution of news and the creation of stories by journalists will disappear.

Some claim that journalism as a profession will eventually die, as there are big name newspapers like Forbes and the Los Angeles Times already using automated journalism. However, right now they are using artificial intelligence (AI) only for number based articles, e.g. weather, quick sports recaps, financial reports. Besides, if newspapers considered removing journalists for AI software to write stories, it would ruin the human aspect of and would become bland and mundane. There would be no in-depth reports, thus eliminating the enjoyment of reading articles. 

The family member who told me to not report fake news didn’t know that there is a whole ethics unit we study in journalism class. We learn about the Society of Professional Journalists Principles, in which the first rule is to “seek truth and report it,” and we learn the constitutional amendments.

Creating assumptions about the teachings of journalism solely based on the current practices of some publications in the media is not fair to student journalists, as the way people view us has become more negative. 

The exaggeration of how much fake news is really out there causes misconceptions as well. According to Statista, as of March 2018, 52 percent of Americans believe that online media regularly distributes fake news. In reality, political scientist and professor at the Univerisity of Michigan, Brendan Nyhan, said that the consumption of fake news made up only two percent of the average person’s daily news consumption.

Journalism is not dying. It won’t die as long as there is news being produced and demand by people to be informed.  There have been developments in the distribution of news and the implementation of new technology like AI to journalism, but that doesn’t mean it’s dying; they are improvements that help the public understand the news. There is no doubt that there will be many other changes to journalism in the future, but the heart of journalism won’t cease to exist anytime soon.